Nick Townsend believes Newport County AFC once again proved they can perform against the very best in the business after another battling performance against Premier League opposition West Ham United at Rodney Parade.
The Exiles more than matched the Hammers in the contest and were unlucky not to be 3-0 up in the first half, Padraig Amond was denied by Roberto, Corey Whitely’s cross was deflected only just past the far post and Mark O’Brien came inches away from getting a foot to a looping cross.
Eventually West Ham’s clinical quality shone through as Jack Wilshere and Pablo Fornals both dispatched their first goals for the Hammers either side of half time.
But Townsend was proud of how County applied themselves against their top-flight opponents and says performances akin to the one at Rodney Parade will see them consistently pick up results in League Two.
On the Carabao Cup defeat against West Ham United…
“In the first half, I thought we were the better team and it definitely could have been 3-0 to us before half-time. We had the better chances and they only really had two shots in the first half, one of which was the goal.
“We’ve proven that we can play against higher league teams, but we just need a more clinical mindness in both boxes. There’s no reason why we can’t play against both teams from this competition – West Ham and Gillingham – who obviously have bigger budgets.
“We played really well; the lads’ work rate was class against a really good team in West Ham United. They showed their quality with the team they put out and our lads put on a good show of it.
“I think we’ve shown we can play against the big teams.”
On being rewarded for his heroics in Round One with a starting spot at Rodney Parade…
“I’m just taking it day by day like I’ve said before. There’s no point getting away with myself, Gillingham was only one game, and this is another.
“At least I know that the gaffer is happy to choose both of us and he hasn’t got to worry about whether to put me or Kingy in goal, which is a positive for him and the club.
“This was the first time I’ve played on TV and this game will long in the memory.
“To be fair, I didn’t really notice any difference to being on TV. It felt like a normal game. You kind of block out the TV side of things and with the crowd being so loud, it was easy to block everything out.
“I was playing, and I didn’t notice any TV cameras around the place. When you play, you get into your own mindset.”
On heading to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday…
“Even though we lost against West Ham, the team put on a very good performance and it shows that if we take that into the rest of the season then we should be pushing on further from last year.
“We’ve got better strength in depth as well and we’re proving that in the last few games, we’re strong and solid at the back.
“We’ve got our targets which we want to achieve and they’re all around improving on last year.
“Forest Green Rovers do play the same as West Ham and we’re quite comfortable being a pressing team – to be fair, West Ham knew exactly what they were doing, weight of pass, everything about them was quality.
“This was kind of the dress rehearsal to Forest Green Rovers and hopefully we’ll be able to go there and get the result we need.
“I don’t think West Ham United are the worst of teams to lose your unbeaten record to. But the league is more important, we’re still unbeaten in the league, and we need to kick on.”